© 2018 by Kate Ryan.

Before this happened to me, if somebody were to tell me this story, I would have been like, “Why didn’t you punch him in the face?  Why didn't you kick?  Why didn't you scream?”

It seems so simple, right? 

I couldn't move.

 

*

 

I was 25 at the time. 

I had planned to go out with a friend that night.

Our goal was to go out, get drunk, meet boys.  

I never had the thought in my head that I was going to go home with a guy.

I wanted to meet a guy and have a relationship.

 

We pre-gamed. 

I got really drunk. 

And me and my friend met—I still, to this day can't say his name. 

We met him and his friend at another bar. 

 

I was attracted to him. 

He told me he was a secret service agent, and he showed me his badge.

And I was impressed. 

 

I don't think I consciously had this thought, but subconsciously I felt safe with him because of his job. 

 

We left another bar, and we made our way back to the White House Ellipse. 

Only people who have clearance can park there. 

So again, I just felt safe, secure. 

 

And the words were never spoken, "Let's go back to my place." 

But it was kind of just unspoken. 

 

In the car I was just like, "We're not having sex.  You know that right?" 

I remember saying those words. 

 

*

 

And we got to his apartment. 

When I came out of the bathroom and went into his bedroom he had already taken off like half of his clothes. 

 

We started making out and I remember him being on top of me. 

I had a thong on, and I remember him taking off my thong. 

And I remember saying no, but then he kept kissing me and I was like, "Whatever."

So he took it off.

And I remember him starting to finger me. 

And I was like "No, no, no, no, no." 

But then he kept kissing me and I stopped. 

And then I felt him start to penetrate me.

And I remember saying "No, no, no, no, no, no, no." 

And I remember not being able to move. 

 

He thrust inside of me a couple of times. 

I'm sure it was only a couple of seconds, but it seemed like forever. 

And he said, "Ok, ok, we can just cuddle." 

So he got off of me and spooned me.

 

And I just laid there until I could tell he was asleep. 

I put my dress back on, put my thong back on, grabbed my shoes by the door. 

I didn't even put my shoes on. 

I just left the apartment, and I called myself an Uber and I went home. 

The next day he called to apologize to me. 

He never used the word rape.

But he said something along the lines of, "I'm sorry that we went further than you wanted.”  

 

Looking back, I don't know if that was him genuinely feeling bad or if it was just a power move.  Like, “I'm taking that away from you.  You don't even get to say, ‘He doesn't feel bad.’  Because I'm making you think that I feel bad.”

 

*

 

The hardest part about all of this is that I did not know that I was raped. 

 

It wasn't until a week later when I was chatting with my friend, the one who had gone out with me that night, about what had happened, and she was like, "That's not normal; that's not ok."

 

And that was the first time that I was like, "Oh, shit.  You're right.  That's not a normal thing."

 

*

 

I did so much Googling. 

I remember being at work and thinking "They're going to flag my computer." 

I was Googling all sorts of things, and that's how I found out about RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network. 

 

I called them, and I will never forget this moment. 

The words just came tumbling out of me about what had happened. 

I remember asking, "Is that rape?" 

Because I still needed to know. 

And this person was an official and she said, "Yes, that's rape." 

 

And that kind of set everything else in motion. 

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*

 

I knew that I needed it to be in writing officially, in case I wanted to do something down the line.

 

I spoke with a police officer who took an official report. 

And I remember asking him if he had a daughter, what would he want her to do? 

And he said, "I do have a daughter, and she wouldn't have a choice." 

It felt just really good to hear, especially coming from a male. 

 

He suggested, regardless of whether I wanted to press charges at that moment or not that I go to get a rape kit done. 

It had been a week at this point since it happened.

But he just said it just looks good to a jury that you went through the motions to do it.

 

*

 

I took a city bus to the nearest hospital that does a rape kit. 

 

The woman at the front desk didn't know what a SANE exam was. 

So that was the first time that I had actually said the words out loud. 

“I was raped.”

And she then called a social worker who I spoke to. 

She said it had been too long. 

“We're still going to admit you to the ER for an STD and pregnancy test.”

 

And that was the longest night of my entire life. 

Being triaged in front of other people and saying why I'm there.

There was literally no empathy from any of the nurses and doctors that came into my room.

 

I remember when they gave me the results of the pregnancy and STD test that it was negative.  I just remember losing it. 

 

Nobody knew at this point. 

So I was at the hospital all alone and I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

The first week after it had happened, before I had called RAINN or anything, I was so horrified that I had this one-night stand (I was thinking it was), so I felt like I needed to make it a relationship to justify it. 

 

So I continued to see him, and we went on two or three dates that week. 

And I don't know how the fuck I was able to do that, looking back. 

I don't think I was even in my own body. 

 

He made these comments that really made me question his stability.  He told me he has his apartment rigged so that if someone tries to break in a shotgun will go off in their face. 

 

When I finally told him to stop contacting me, I was petrified that he was going to retaliate.

For a solid 6 months after all this happened, probably longer, I was just constantly searching for his face in crowds. 

Which is exhausting. 

 

Being in New York is a relief in that I'm no longer searching for his face in crowds. 

I don't think I actually thought about that when I moved here. 

I don't think I was like, "I need to escape him,” but it certainly turned out that way. 

 

*

 

When I would tell people what happened, I would always follow it up with, "But I'm fine.  I'm ok." 

And I genuinely thought that I was. 

 

And then in October of last year, everything changed. 

I have no idea what the catalyst was. 

I think everything was catching up to me. 

 

I started to seek out an individual therapist, and I've been seeing one since November. 

I also started group therapy with three other individuals who are rape survivors.  

I have group therapy every week for two hours and then individual therapy once a week for one hour. 

 

And this has been the hardest thing that I have ever done in my entire life.

 

I am now getting physical symptoms of everything. 

I've been officially diagnosed with PTSD. 

I have memory loss, extreme mood swings, insomnia. 

I just started getting heart palpitations last Thursday. 

I had an EKG done, because I thought that I was having a heart attack. 

I'm prescribed Ambien.

I'm prescribed Xanax.

I get acupuncture.

I have acupressure beads.

I have a grounding stone. 

The last six months of my life have been fucking hell. 

 

I have to go to work every day feeling like I'm crawling out of my own skin.  

I actually ended up applying for short-term disability, because there are days that I literally can't get out of bed. 

 

*

 

I come home and I sit in the shower.  

I live with two other people and my bedroom is not an actual bedroom, so being in the bathroom is a very private place. 

I can't hear anything. 

And I just sit there. 

It's typically scalding water.  

I guess having the constant of that water hit me is kind of numbing.

 

I've been trying to practice these grounding exercises where you stare at a certain color on the wall or the hat that's hanging on the coatrack. 

I would think about the shapes that are on the hat, the colors, the textures. 

And it's really just a distraction to keep yourself from spiraling. 

And that seems to work. 

But there's just not a quick fix.

I have a journal that I keep in my purse all the time, and I have started to write about things that I'm feeling or thinking.  I wish it was more therapeutic.

 

I'm writing a novel.

I would say it's inspired by my experience, but basically everything else is completely different and all of the details.  And this was the first writing project that I actually felt I could finish and it was even something that I would consider shopping around. 

 

And I have hit a wall with it.  

I didn't understand it at first. 

But I don't think I'll be able to finish that or even write about it well until I heal myself. 

 

I feel honestly like I'm just surviving every hour to hour at this point.

 

I get very frustrated with myself when I have a good day, and then the next day I can't get out of bed. 

 

It's always one step forward, nine million steps back.

 

It's not a physical handicap. 

You can't see it. 

It’s silent.

 

-Melissa